(Photo Credit: Nabeel Ahmad/Premier Boxing Champions) The scene was set for the 2012 U.S. Olympian and Team Captain Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring to take his career to the next level on this Fourth of July weekend but it wasn’t meant to be for the former U.S. Marine, who did two tours of duty in Iraq. The two-time world title challenger Denis Shafikov punished Herring before his corner stopped the one-sided bout 36 seconds into the tenth and final round after Shafikov crushed Herring with two consecutive powerful left hooks that badly staggered him.
This bout took place in the Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. It was broadcast by Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN.
Shafikov improved to 37-2-1, 20 KOs with the technical knockout victory. He’s ranked eighth by The Ring, ninth by the IBF, and fourteenth by the WBC. Herring suffered his first professional loss as he fell to 15-1, 8 KOs.
“He was a tough opponent. I kept hurting him, but he kept coming back. After I knocked him down, I felt that I was in control of the fight, but my corner wanted the stoppage because they didn’t think that I could get a decision here,” said Shafikov. “I was very comfortable in the ring and now I feel that I deserve another title shot. This time, I will not let it slip away.”
Shafikov was extremely aggressive in the early going as he had Herring looking very uncomfortable with his constant pressure. Shafikov landed often and had Herring consistently backing up. Then with six seconds left in the second round after Herring landed a good left hook, Shafikov connected on a brutal right hook that knocked Herring into the ropes which held him up and referee Gary Rosato correctly ruled it a knockdown. Herring got up quickly, but was hurt. This was the first time he had been down as a professional.
He kept up the offensive onslaught for the rest of the bout. He outworked and out landed Herring and got the better of the power shots as he connected on 41 percent of them. Shafikov did well on the inside exchanges despite being five inches shorter than Herring, who even though he was the taller boxer, he didn’t do a good job at keeping the fight on the outside. Herring wasn’t active enough and couldn’t get anything going offensively. He was too content on throwing one punch at a time and focused more on his defense than his offense, especially later in the bout when he was well behind on the scorecards and needed to take the fight to Shafikov.
“I fought his fight and couldn’t make the adjustments. I got caught pulling out with my hands down when he knocked me down. I was surprised by his punch rate. Every time that I felt that I was slowing him down, he would just fight back,” said Herring. “I didn’t want the fight to be stopped, but my corner did the best thing for me. Losing is part of the game and all the greats have taken losses. I’ll be back.”
Shafikov staggered Herring in the third round from a powerful left hook. He really took over this fight in the fifth as he badly hurt Herring from an overhand left follow up by several sharp combinations that pinned Herring to the ropes. This exchanged caused Herring to bleed from his mouth. Herring suffered a cut over his right eye from an accidental head butt in the seventh round. Shafikov tried to end the bout in the ninth as he landed several power shots that badly staggered Herring who somehow hung in there and didn’t go down. As Herring walked back to his corner, he had a bloody and swollen right eye and there was a good amount of blood that was coming from his nose and mouth. This caused Herring’s trainer Mike Stafford to tell him that he was going to stop the fight if he didn’t show him something in the next round. After Herring took more punishment, his corner had seen enough and ended the fight, even though Herring wanted to finish it.
Herring took a significant step up in competition in fighting a top ten fighter in the lightweight division and based on his performance, it demonstrated that he’s not yet ready for the best boxers in his weight class. He does deserve a great deal of credit thought for showing an immense amount of heart for never quitting and not getting knocked down for a second time despite taking a severe beating.
Shafikov took a significant step toward getting another world title shot as he destroyed rising contender Herring despite being a very surprising 2:1 underdog even though he fought the vastly superior competition and was the much more experienced boxer. Shafikov two losses were to world champions, Miguel Vazquez, in a bout that was much closer than the scorecards indicated, and in his last fight to undefeated Rances Barthelemy, both by unanimous decisions.